The Peel region in Western Australia, traditionally home to the Noongar people, is known for its rich natural resources, extensive waterways, diverse national parks and white sandy beaches. Throw in some world-class cultural events and a winery or two, and it should come as no surprise that two Peel destinations - Mandurah and Dwellingup were crowned 2023’s National Top Tourism Town and Top Tiny Tourism Town, respectively.

Being award recipients is not the only connection these two popular destinations share. Both towns are located within the Murray River catchment, a river and wetlands system flowing from the Scarp high up in the Darling Ranges through Dwellingup before meandering by way of tributaries and wetlands to the Peel-Harvey Inlet in Mandurah.

Both destinations are also easy road trips from the Perth CBD and only half an hour drive apart! You can be packed and out the door on Friday after work for a weekend getaway (or a sneaky day trip). Let's look at what both destinations have to offer. 

Mandurah Ocean Marina
Mandurah - Australia's Top Tourism Town!


Just over an hours drive from Perth is Dwellingup, a wilderness retreat for the adventurous! A one-stop destination for those who love to bike, paddle, hike and camp, and an equally ideal place to chill out in nature.  

The name Dwellingup is the Aboriginal word for ‘place of nearby water’. Set in the ancient Jarrah and Marri forests of the Darling Scarp and graced by the flowing Murray River, this forest town is just the place to get your nature dose.

The drive to Australia’s Top Tiny Tourism Town from Perth takes just over an hour. Feel the work week slide away as you wind down your window and breathe in the distinctive smell of Western Australian bush. Whether you’re staying in the charming Dwellingup townsite or camping at Lane Poole Reserve, trees are everywhere.

Lane Poole Reserve, Dwellingup
Dwellingup - Australia's Top Tiny Tourism Town!
Get on your Bike or Take a Hike

Dwellingup is the mountain bike capital of the Peel region, and the Munda Biddi Track passes by the main town, so naturally, people come here to get out into nature. The new Murray Valley Mountain Bike Trails offer fast tracks with incredible views! The full network of Dwellingup Mountain Bike Trails caters to beginners and more experienced riders not far from the town centre. Bikes are available for hire from Dwellingup Adventures.  

Rather be hiking? You can join the Bibbulmun Track from the town centre and head as far as you like either way. If you decide to head towards Collie, you will be rewarded with 50 km of walking along the Murray River. If you are camping at Lane Poole Reserve, there are many places to walk and spots to access the river for water-based fun.

Murray Valley Mountain Bike Trails | Dwellingup
Mountain Biking | Dwellingup
Kayak, Raft or Canoe the Murray

People love to get on the Murray River in all manner of ways. A leisurely kayak, some fast water rafting when the waters are flowing fast, or a lazy afternoon floating in Island Pool on a pool noodle - whatever floats your boat! 

With a variety of trails to suit all paddlers, Lane Poole Reserve is the go-to for water sports. Always take a buddy and make sure you tell someone where you are going. Don’t fancy going solo? Dwellingup Adventures can curate an adventure for you. They have all the equipment and local know-how.

A visit to the Dwellingup Trails and Visitors Centre will have you on the right hiking, biking or kayaking track in no time!

Kayaking in Lane Poole Reserve
Kayaking in Lane Poole Reserve | Dwellingup
Full Steam Ahead

Famous for the Hotham Valley Railway, Dwellingup is one for the trainspotters! The Dwellingup Rail was a pivotal hub for the timber industry in the early 20th century, transporting timber to the port city of Mandurah for decades. Most weekends, the Hotham Valley Forest Train trip will steam you 8km up the line, where you disembark for a picnic while the train turns around.  

One for the bucket list is a dining experience on the Etmilyn Restaurant Train run by the volunteers who operate the Hotham Valley steam train. A homestyle five-course meal is served in the perfectly preserved 1919 dining car as you meander through the Dwellingup forest. Bookings are essential as they only operate one night a week, and places are limited.

Hotham Valley Tourist Railway
Hotham Valley Tourist Railway | Dwellingup
Dining & Accommodation

Dwellingup is a country town, and what country town doesn’t have a pub? The Dwellingup Hotel, or the ‘Dwelly Pub’ (to the locals), serves up hearty pub meals and comfortable accommodation, just perfect for the weary adventurer! The iconic Blue Wren Cafe, famous for mouthwatering sausage rolls and pies, is open for breakfast and lunch, while The Wine Tree Cidery makes a delicious ploughman’s platter, perfect when served with the cidery’s small-batch wines and ciders.

Lost Eden Creative encompasses all the things you need in one, with bookable holiday accommodation onsite as well as a very popular cafe, Garden Eats, renowned for its deliciously flavourful, healthy food options including vegan and gluten free Asian style street food. Not to mention, the best coffee in Dwellingup!

Farm stays, bed and breakfast, self-contained cottages, and camping are your accommodation choices. If you decide to camp under the stars at the iconic Lane Poole Reserve, bookings are essential for most camping areas, and online booking is available. A Park Entrance Fee is payable for your vehicle, and dogs are permitted on lead.  

Dwellingup | Lost Eden Creative
Lost Eden Creative | Dwellingup


To the west of Dwellingup is Mandjoogoordap, the Noongar name for the locality of Mandurah, which translates to 'meeting place of the heart'. The town is set on the Peel-Harvey Estuarine System, famously twice the size of Sydney Harbour! Mandurah is a playground for all things aquatic, including fishing, swimming, boating and wildlife interactions, or a place to enjoy the thriving local arts scene.

So, if you’re looking for seaside holiday vibes where sandy feet meet culture and relaxation, an hour from the hustle and bustle of Perth, Mandurah is your destination. Winning the Gold Top Tourism Town Award 2023 for the second time running makes you think they must be doing something right. 

Mandurah's Kwillena Gabi Estuary Pool
Kwillena Gabi Estuary Pool on Mandurah's Eastern Foreshore | Mandurah
Enjoy the Mandurah Foreshore

The bustling foreshore precinct in Mandurah is an effortless blend of coastal charm and modern amenities. The waterfront is the perfect place to enjoy a romantic stroll, dine on fresh fish and chips from Cicerellos, or take the kids to the state-of-the-art Koolaanga Waabiny Playground for a barbeque picnic.  

Want to explore further afield? Hire e-bikes or scooters from The Kiosk beside the Mandurah Visitor Centre to explore the many bike paths in the town and on the coast.

Family at Mandurah Visitor Centre
Mandurah Visitor Centre | Mandurah

Get to know local Indigenous stories and brush up on your maritime history at the Mandurah Community Museum, a place of fascinating stories and incredible artifacts. Entry is a gold coin donation.

Go on a Giant Hunt!

By now, everyone has heard of the ‘Giants of Mandurah!’ Thomas Dambo’s Giants are in situ in various locations around Mandurah for an extended time. You might not get to see them all in one day; multiple visits to Mandurah may be on the cards! Get your directions from the Visitor Centre and follow the clues.

Thomas Dambo's Giants of Mandurah
Giants of Mandurah | Mandurah
Get in, on or beside the water!   

The beaches and waterways around Mandurah are an invitation to play. Experience sand between your toes within walking distance of the town centre, take a sunset cruise with frolicking bottle-nose dolphins aboard Mandurah Cruises or hire a boat from Mandurah Boat Hire and cruise the canals.

Go fishing or crabbing in the Peel-Harvey Estuary or kayak, canoe or stand-up paddleboard in the sheltered waters of Mandurah's canals or the estuary on a craft also available to rent at Mandurah Boat Hire. Follow the Mandurah Central Paddle Trail, Peel-Harvey Estuary Paddle Network with stops along the way.

Mandurah Boat & Bike Hire | Mandurah
Mandurah Boat Hire | Mandurah
Dine Out

Mandurah eats range from the usual holiday classics - fish and chips and burgers -  to fine dining at Flics Kitchen on the waterfront. International cuisine is covered with Urban List’s favourites:  Maneki Japanese Restaurant at Dolphin Quay, spicy Thai from Jasmine Thai and Saigon Silver Sands Vietnamese Restaurant. For a full list of places to eat or stay, drop into the Mandurah Visitor Centre.


Accommodation choices in Mandurah are only limited by your budget and preference. From camping and cabins to luxury canal apartments, Mandurah has it all. There are even options for those who love to travel with their pooches. Check out our list of places to stay here.

Seashells Mandurah
Luxury accommodation, Seashells Mandurah, located nearby Dolphin Quay | Mandurah
See You in the Peel Region

From the forest to the sea, these two shining stars of the Peel region will have you returning again and again to experience a truly remarkable part of the world! So, what are you waiting for? Start the car!